New Mexico Republicans expect the Senate primary field to grow, but an associate close to Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) said an announcement about his intentions isn't "imminent."

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) announced last month he wouldn't seek reelection in 2012, which prompted several candidates to surge into the GOP primary for the open seat. The field now includes former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), businessman Greg Sowards, a former congressional candidate, and Bill English.

A report on Thursday indicated that Sanchez was "poised" to enter the race. But a close associate of the lieutenant governor called that "premature."

"Expectations of an imminent announcement are premature," the associate of Sanchez told The Ballot Box, noting that the Republican was focused on the current legislative session, which runs through noon on March 19.

While Sanchez is being encouraged to run by supporters, he's not under pressure to announce early because of his notoriety. In 2002, he clinched the GOP gubernatorial nod, but lost to Democrat Bill Richardson in the general election. Last cycle, he won the nomination for the lieutenant governor and was swept into office with Gov. Susana Martinez in November. 

Meanwhile, state GOP officials expect the primary field to grow.

"There could be additional candidates jumping in," said Bryan Watkins, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Watkins said the state party is focused on keeping the "process as open and transparent as possible," but won't get dragged into the "muddy waters" of a multi-candidate primary.

"We'd hope that it wouldn't be too bruising of a primary, but we're not trying to engage [with] any of the campaigns," he said. "At the end of the day, we would hope all candidates would keep it above the belt, but that's going to be their decision." 


—Updated at 1:06 p.m.